What Does Today’s Teleworker Look Like?

teleworkThe answer found in a recent survey may not be what you expected.

In a national survey of 556 employed adults, Flex+Strategy Group/Work+Life Fit Inc. found 31 percent of respondents saying they do most of their work away from their employer’s offices.

No great shock there. The study also found, however, that 71 percent of teleworkers were men, which may come as a surprise to some. And that wasn’t the only finding that could startle those who picture the average teleworker as a busy mom trying to balance work responsibilities with the rigors of raising kids or a young millennial who eschews the confines of stuffy corporate offices.

To wit, the survey saw no significant statistical difference between the number of remote workers with kids and those without children. The poll also found no significant difference in the age groups of teleworkers.

Despite such findings, too many employers still “treat telework as a disposable option,” a la Marissa Mayer at Yahoo, said Cali Williams Yost, CEO of the Madison, N.J.-based Flex+Strategy Group, in a statement.

“Telework is not a perk, and it’s certainly not just for moms and Gen Y,” said Yost. “Rather, it’s an operational strategy. Think of it as anything less and organizations ignore what has become a vital part of their business and the way their people actually work.”

The study also includes some statistics that suggest cubicle life is taking a significant toll on employees back at HQ.

For example, on-site employees reported doing most of their work either in a private office (30 percent) or a cube or open office space (33 percent). In comparison to their remote and private office counterparts, this group reported having less work/life flexibility than they did at this time last year, the survey found.

In addition, remote workers were more likely to receive training to help them manage work/life flexibility, with 47 percent of this group saying they had undergone such training. Only 35 percent of those working primarily in cubes or open office spaces said the same.

Companies that still resist offering telework options to more employees “will be increasingly confronted with the limitations of open office plans and forced to accept that work/life flexibility is a solution to where, when and how employees can get their work done with greater focus and performance,” according to Yost.

“Whether they work remotely or together on-site, we need to help employees develop the critical skill set needed to manage their work/life fit, so they can successfully capture the best of collaborative and remote work environments.”